Monday, December 29, 2008

Blue Monday

Called around today and got quotes on replacing my windshield, not as bad as I thought but $222 is still allot in my book. So I am going to have it replaced in the morning.
I did my last round of the appliance stores today and am in the same holding pattern as I was yesterday. I mean the best deal I can find is at Home Depot right now. I checked everywhere online Lowes, Sears, etc but HD is so far the best. The only thing is I am not to sure of the Maytag brand. I know it isn't what it used to be as far as quality. But like anything else there is good and bad in everything.
What I think I am going to do is just buy a plainer, and a small fridge. I got to costing out the stripper and as much as I am going to be using I can buy a plainer for $200 and really cut down on the stripping and sanding. You should see the pile of baseboard trim that needs to be redone. And I am not including the trim that is still attached to the walls and around the doors. I will still have to do the crown by hand though.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The day after the rain came

Here are two images of the closet door for the bedroom. Nothing really to talk about. The hinges and door hardware shinned up really nice with the brasso after using the Zinsser stripper.

Below is the closet off the kitchen. It originally had five shelves going up the back wall and was kind of boring. To get my mind off the pipe breakage I thought that this would be a cool Butlers Pantry. So using some left over wood, I framed up the bottom portion of the closet. Underneath the "box" is really a 45 degree slant, starting high on the back wall and sloping towards the front if you are standing in the doorway looking in. Beneath and behind the wall and floor are the stairs that go down to the basement. By putting the box in there I am really hiding the slope and actually gaining some space.
The top is 3/4 ply, and the front is a piece of bead board left over from the front porch project. The bead board piece will flip down on a hinge, just cause I can and to add a small bit of storage space for paper towels etc. My intent is to have a small refrigerator on the right side. That will give me about 19" to have either a small cupboard on the left or a small row of drawers, or small shelves with hanging baskets that can pull out. I can take the wood from the shelving and frame in the fridge and put a decent counter top for a small workspace. Then to carry on I will add some cabinets or open shelves above it all for storage. Ambitious, maybe but I think with the extra wood I have laying around it will only cost time.

Well with the rapid thaw of 6" of snow and ice, then some heavy rain yesterday the basement started leaking. So off to Home Dep-oh again to find some hydraulic cement to stuff into the cracks. I spent another $13 but didn't get the water to stop totally. I did stem the largest flows but it is still weeping and I will have to wait until the water slows a little bit more.

Has anyone been appliance shopping lately? my gawd what a rip off! I have been to every home improvement store, appliance store and outlet store in the area and just cannot believe what they are asking for prices. When I find something decent, I come home and check only to find CR recommends the product but the comments left by people leave something to be desired. I am having a real hard time forking out a $1000+ for a fridge and then have it take a crap on me, only to dump another $300 for a compressor.
Washer and dryers? another scam. I am needing stackable units to fit into closet off the bathroom. Again the prices are crazy. GE and Kenmore Elite series are just crazy $1200 + per unit. For those occasonal drinkers, that is over 2400 beers! How is that for putting it into context?
Cooktops, again crazy and it doesn't matter if it is gas or electric. Ovens and stoves, a cursory look again is a $1000 plus. I can see how the average kitchen remodel runs $25k plus if your not careful.
Cabinets, haven't really looked into them to much but I am definitely going with the RTA (Ready To Assemble)versions already. I worked in a cabinet shop for a short time and from what I have seen that passes for quality is not quality just because you put a stamp on the front. I have a hard time seening people pay big dollars for cabinets and then throw marble tops onto presswood frames with plastic corner braces and drawer runners.

So that is my rant for today, I am sure I will find some more later on in the week.

Oh the last picture is of Sugar after her spa treatment. She was getting a good rubdown from Grandma cause she thought the "shug" was still to wet.
Sometimes I wonder who is the dogs owner.

Princess Sugar wrapped in swaddling clothes

Friday, December 26, 2008

Postpartum Christmas

Man I tell you this has been a crappy week. I have tried real hard to make merriment with Christmas and all, but the gods have allied against me. We have had some crappy weather lately, with some below zero temperatures, snow, freezing rain, then we have had 40 + degrees, melting snow, and now real heavy fog tonight.
So during the real cold weather, my windshield cracked in 3 nice places and there is a pretty spiderweb crossing the windscreen. Still with me? So, I get up this morning and was doing some running around, paying bills etc. I am at Menards looking at just about everything. I really only needed some tack cloth, some Poly Minwax, and some Zinsser stripper. And I ask the girl in the paint department if she might be interested in going on a date, denied! (actually I had asked another girl late last week if she wanted to go out, denied! and three months ago my girlfriend told me she wanted to be "alone") Well after embarrassing myself badly I forgot the tack cloth and stripper, but did get out with the polyminwax alive, and with some dignity.

Ok, so I come home and get ready to seal the door I have been working on the last few days (more on the later). I was able to get the first coat on one side with no issues. So while I am waiting for the first coat to dry, I jumped into the next project. The area where the washer and dryer hot/cold water pipes come down the wall in the basement were half-assed installed. And I was not looking for a cosmetic change, the pipe themselves were hanging, yes hanging and leaking. The walls in the basement are concrete and brick, and the piece of wood that was holding up the pipes, was also hanging and jury rigged badly in of itself. I took the nail gun and a piece of plywood, nailed that sucker to the concrete for a nice place to reconnect the pipes to the wall, one pipe is CPVC, and one galvanized. I rehung the CPVC, no problems. The galvanized? well the freaking pipe was rusted through and at the "T" joint it broke, water came flying out like a firehose was turned on, and the back half of me was soaked! I ran to the other end of the basement and turned off the water supply coming from the city. So there I am wet, pissed, and looking at what was going to cost me $70 to fix, that I don't have.
The first two pictures are what was installed for water pipes. Not! Now from the city, the water is copper, then goes to galvanized, then CPVC, then back to copper, then CPVC, and back and forth between 3/4" to 1/2" and everything in between. what a fucking mess. The first two pics are what was originally installed. In pic two where the pipe broke, see the "T" to the right of the dripping one? well more on that. So I am standing there, wet ( I think I said that already), got out the hack saw, and could not cut that pipe for nothing. Off to Home Depot (cause I did not want to show my face in Menards again today) bought a saw zaw ( $29.95) , some CPVC and misc. parts I thought I needed. Whip out the new tool and blast through the pipe in 10 secs flat. See that second "T" ? I put the pipe wrench on there and snap the CPVC connect that goes to the tub above. Right where the galvanized and CPVC pipes come together. Christ, back to the store. The guy at Home Depot was very help full, we were both sitting on the floor in the middle of the aisle with plumbing parts laid all over the place. People would start down the aisle with their carts, stop, look, turn around and go the way they came. Kind of funny, considering it has been a shitty week.

Now this is another learning experience, and I hate plumbing. CPVC and PVC are different. The diameters are different, 3/4" PVC is measured from the inside and 3/4" CPVC is measured on the outside. And nary the two shall fit. So back to the store for the third time! I mustered up the guts (the plumbing and paint Departments are next to each other) and went back to Menards luckly I found the exact parts I needed, without help. I headed home and gathered everything I had purchased and assessed the disaster area. Until I get this done, I am not taking a shower, that is what I assessed.

Below is what I was able to cobble together. So far no leaks. The little stub with two 90 degree elbows was originally galvanized with CPVC attached to the upper part, that is what snapped off and resulted in the second trip to the store.

Zinsser, let me talk a bit about the brand of new stripper I found. This stuff is great! No smell, doesn't burn your skin if is gets on you and the clean up is great. It kind of sucks all the paint up, and makes a congealed paste out of the paint and old varnish. What I also found best about the product is that it really gets into the cracks creavasess of the trim and lifts the paint out and makes it kind of fluff up. There is no extra scraping that I have to do and no use of dental tools to get the left behind paint out of the cracks. Very cool and I highly recommend. One of the few bright spots this week.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The person who invented the flat bar

I want to personally thank the person who invented the flat bar. This has got to one of the best tools a person can own when redoing a house. I slammed through peeling off the baseboards and crown in about 45 mins. I cracked a few boards but nothing that will be any show stopper later on and when I reinstall the boards no one will ever know cept' me.

So being single and Sugar not being very talkative most of time, I usually have the TV on for white noise. Well tonight it was the SciFi channel and the show was called Apocalypse. Great movie, NOT! ok here is the premise, A large earth quake is going to split the country in half, from North Dakota (ah jezz) all the way to the Gulf. I suppose that is something that could be dealt with if just left alone, but oh no! there are two back stories that deal with rescues, and yes love. Just freaking great! But with all that going on and the country being split in half that just wasn't enough. There is a nuclear power plant in Texas that sits right in the middle of the path that the fault is splitting the ground towards. AND but wait! there is a large gas line that goes right by the Nuke plant that the "scientist" blowup just in time to cause the fault to go around. Success! yeah! they saved the nuke plant! But wait there is more drama, Houston was split right in half! I mean right down the center of downtown, that poor Enron building.

And oh yes, there is (cue your best Dr. Evil voice) hot magma in fault line. Once it hit the gulf it back filled with water all the way North the the Hudson bay. I am sure there were sharks with lasers on their heads that swam north to Canada and just devastated the entire Eskimo population while they hunted for seals. But they ran out of time to cover that part of the story.

So anyway, I hope I saved you from watching the reruns of that movie. You can thank me later.

Here is a picture of the trim I pulled off tonight. The baseboards are a full 7 1/4" wide, you can't buy that kind of wood anymore, and not in poplar.
I wish I had the money for a planner, it would save so much time stripping and sanding.
Here are a few pics of the before and afters:
And my last note for the night, I have been looking at programmable furnace thermostats, I was walking through Walmart and saw this Hunter brand for $26 dollars. It seems to be working so far, I set it for 64 degrees during the day and 70 at night. So we will see if it saves on the gas bill.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Well I just couldn't take the "pumpkin" look anymore. I showed a few folks at work the color I painted last night and they said "just leave it, it will grow on you" well I came home tonight, took a piece of trim that I had stripped and refinished and laid it against the wall to get a feel for what it would look like side by side. I stood there in the frontroom and looked, went and stood on the front porch and looked through the window, stood out in the side yard and looked through the east windows, I looked, I looked and looked some more. About 20 minutes in all, it just wasn't doing it for me. I like the color alot, it isn't made for this room. So off I went to to Menards and bought another gallon of paint and this color is called "Amber Stone". It is hard to tell from the pictures but it is like a dark wheat color vice the "pumpkin patch" color I had before. I think I might use the pumpkin patch somewhere else in the house later on.

So below is the before, after and after pictures.

Here is a picture of the two colors side by side, pretty big difference

and here is the Amber Stone with the the trim laying next to the door, personally I like it and that is all that matters.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A well diggers arse

A well diggers arse is not near as cold as it is outside today. Now I have never known a well digger let alone know or have checked the tempeture of their arse, but it is cold today.
I got the porch finished today but ran out of paint so I had to go and buy 1 quart to finish the project, that took an hour. But the porch is done. Complete.

I popped the door casings, baseboards and crown molding off the door to the kitchen from the front room and painted the wall with Butterscotch Candy, I don't care what anyone will say, but I am living on the inside of a pumpkin! and not to sure that the color will stay.
Here a couple of before and after shots.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Oh the weather outside is???.......

More freaking snow. It snowed early in the week, then we had a 1/2" of ice, then more snow on top of the ice. I am waiting for the power lines to give up the ghost and start breaking at anytime. Now the rest of the weekend is suppose to be a high of ZERO. Yeah I am bitching about the weather and I know I live in Northern Illinois, but I have to bitch about something, we have a Governor that got caught red handed selling a Senate seat and refuses to step down, not much I can do about that either, and I never voted for the bastard anyway.
Well, with a spurt of the cash flow I was able to work a bit more on the front porch. I still have to trim out the painting  but I think it turned out ok thus far, and to me that's all that matters.

Here are some pictures of the project:

I bought some paint for the living/dining room today, I picked a color called called (get this) Butterscotch Candy! A normal person would call it pumpkin. So my intent is to paint two of the four walls this color and I haven't decided on what color the other two walls will be. So for reference, the West and South walls will be Butterscotch Candy, and the North and East walls are mostly windows and a fireplace. But both of these walls need to be stripped of their paneling first and I am not sure that I want to do that just yet.

Yep so I am sitting here and the wind has really picked up and the lights are flickering, and I just got a call from work through our automated system that my servers are on battery backup and fading fast.
UPDATE: So I head into work late last night and being as though all the doors are electronically locked, and the computer that controls then is now on battery backup, I can't get into the building. After driving around to the back I was able to get in the back door the old fashioned way, with a key! Then as I made it to the door to the data center it is locked electronically and I left the key in the car, so back outside in the wind and cold to find the key and back inside. I finally made it into the data center and the power came back on. The short of the long is it wook me longer to get to work, get in the data center than it did to actually do what I had to do once I got there.

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Ok, so I head over to Home Depot in my car to get some bead board or wainscoting to go on the walls for the porch. Not owning a truck, I thought that if they cut the 4x8's in half I could squeeze them into the back of the car. Know where I am going with this? So it is raining, cold, and the wind blowing hard enogh that the American Flag over the store was blowing straight out. And of course nothing fit. So I am standing there looking stupid trying to think who had a truck, and after a few phone calls I cajoled a co-worker into letting me use his truck.
So here is a shot of the first pieces I installed:

And here is a shot after priming:

Now being on a strict budget, I took a 8' length of 1x4 clear pine board that I had left over from the bedroom project, then ran the router and cut a bead down the edge. After making the router cuts, I put the wood on the circular saw and made a few more cuts.
I will admit that it took me a good 90 mins. to decide how to cut, and where to cut the wood before I got what I wanted. So don't get the impression that I really knew what I was doing. Most of the time I don't.

And this is the final product(sorry that I got my fat fingers in the picture). I am sure most folks would just by some chair rail and slap it up there, but being cheap and unconventional I did it my way.
I also had a contractor come over today and give me an estimate on replacing the wiring, shoot some insulation in the attic, and replace the basement windows. Roughly $6000, but I won't have a hard copy estimate until next week.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

'The' Inspection

Well I haven't really done to much at all this week. Between work and other life duties there hasn't been to much time. And honestly my motivation factor has been low on doing anything around the house. I did have a house inspector come in yesterday and give the old place a good once over and overall, there was and wasn't any real surprises at his findings.
The roof is good.
The insulation isn't.
The wiring sucks, all knob and tube with some half-assed upgrades.
The chimney is not the best, but for being 80 + years old, pretty good shape. The inspector did suggest a qualified chimney person come and look and give a professional opinion.
The foundation is in good shape, some leakage, but repairable.
Good furnace.
Good A/C.
Good windows.
Good water heater.
So overall not bad and nothing that is going to kill the deal or the budget. I talked to the owner last night and she seemed agreeable in getting the wiring upgraded. So I am hoping that everything works out and no outside influences kill the deal.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cue the theme to cops......

So I was sitting here Friday night and I kept seeing lights flash, I thought what the heck is going on? So I got off my butt and looked out the window, and saw 4 cops cars blocking the street and a guy and his "buddy" at gun point. Now I have no idea what was going on and there was no gun shots. Normally the neighborhood is very quiet and an "older" area of town, older meaning older home owners. So there isn't to much action that happens around here.
Look I live alone and really have nothing else to do but work on the house and feed the dog. Oh and take pictures of potential felons getting cuffed.

I did paint the the front "sun porch" and did some prepping for when I get the bead board installed. Mostly just painted the trim that is already in place and went to Home Depot and priced out the trim that I will be adding later. My mom gave me a plant for the "sun porch" even though it isn't finished.

I finished the the platform for the basement shower.
Now the front right side is missing a piece, so remember that I built the entire thing out of spare pressure treat lumber that I had. So maybe someday I will find a piece that will fit. I did stand on the platform and it is good and solid, and will keep my feet from the cold cement if I ever have to use it. I am not sure how my young apprentice is going to take to it yet, but it can be lifted up and out of the way if she is not into standing on the slats.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Prancer? Dancer? Donner? Blitzen? Rudolf???

No this is my apprentice or aka Princess Sugar getting ready for Christmas. My mom found these antlers in her Christmas "stuff" today and stuck them on Sugar when I stopped by after work.

There is a small back story to this. Sugar gets dropped off every morning at Grand Ma's house and picked up every night after work. So what those two (Mom and Sugar) get into through out the day is known only to them. Mom never said a word when I walked in and it took a few minutes to see Sugar sitting there looking like; "what the hell is going on?" and "please help me" Then, when I wanted a picture, the forlorn look turned into; oh! oh! ok this is cool, my chest is getting scratched, oh yea! what fake antlers? oh yeah! Dad what are you doing here?

She is such good sport and will do or tolerate anything for attention. She is a groovy dog.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It is so cold

Well I think the winter grip has finally taken hold. Suppose to be around 17 degrees tonight. I mustered the courage and looked into the attic tonight, not as bad as I thought but not great either. There is a little bit of insulation, about 2 inches thick laying up there that looks almost like a mix of sawdust and blow-in type of insulation. Never seen anything like that before. There was also LOTS of knob and post wiring also. More than I thought, which is a bummer.
The cool thing is that there is alot of space up there. So maybe someday if I want to expand the upstairs there is space to have a good size room, nothing fancy but a good size open space. When I first stuck my head up, I saw where there used to be some sort of stove vent (oh and more freak'n cob webs) , galvanized metal that was taken off at the header level. So I am sure there is still a good amount of the vent still left in the wall.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More frozen precipitation

It is snowing again today, nothing heavy just enough to make things crappy out and about the right amount to make me push the shovel around the what seems like half the block.

So I haven't done to much the last few days. Last night I couldn't sleep so a started to work on Sugars spa.

So here is the spa she uses and she is particular on how it is kept up. But since she hasn't been in the basement in a few days and I use the area to clean my paint brushes, I thought I should clean it up a bit.
So I started to do a bit of fixing up late last night. Here is what I started:
I just ripped some 2x6's (pressure treated) that I had left over from a previous project. I think it is gonna work out pretty good and if I ever have to use the shower in the basement my tender feet won't get cold and my apprentice will like her new spa area.

Monday, December 1, 2008


Well we got about 3-4 inches of snow yesterday and last night. Of course, being as though almost all the villages and municipalities blew their salt budgets last year for this year most of the roads are frozen over and pretty nasty right now. Funny I am watching the History Channel and they are talking about? salt? A whooping 95% of all salt in the US ends up on the roads and the rust it causes to cars? $115 million dollars a year, or $115 per car, and we as a society consume 15 lbs per person per year.

So I descended into the basement and got the first coat of poly on the door casings after dinner tonight, I grabbed a can of spray foam and filled in more holes and when I turned around the first coat was dry to the touch. So what I am saying is it is real dry in the house right now.

Ok so I needed to take a small wallpaper border off the wall, here is the tool that I used
What it does is score the paper (nice wallpaper huh?) Then you take liquid fabric softener, any brand you like but I prefer the cheap kind and spray it over the wallpaper. I use straight fabric softener, not diluted and let it sit for 5 -10 minutes then using a putty knife the wet wallpaper literaly falls off .
This is the final view after the paper is off.
Make sure you score the paper well with your tool, this allows the softener to penetrate more effectively and get behind the glue. If the paper is not totally wet when you go to scrape it off you need to spray more softener and let it sit. I will tell you that what ever you buy at the home improvement store that bills itself as wall paper remover is either fabric softener or has the same ingredients as fabric softener. So hit up Walmart and buy a generic bottle of fabric softener and save some time and money.